SA flu vaccines could be restricted due to shortage

Image: 123RF / Morganka

South Africans outside of the healthcare sector may not get flu shots this year, because orders placed a year ago are way below the demand due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

In its latest Covid-19 statement Saturday, the SA department of health notes that this year’s batch of flu vaccine has been rationed and will be made available firstly to healthcare workers.

The department says the country received “a very limited stock” of flu vaccines.

The vaccines are pre ordered a year in advance. At the time the country’s public and private sectors placed their orders, the Covid-19 pandemic had not been anticipated.

“This means that as it stands, our flu vaccines are understocked,” minister of health Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.

“As government we have engaged with the pharmaceutical industry and it became clear that the distribution of this vaccine has to be rationalised and prioritised.

“We have therefore taken a decision that health workers in the country will be given priority in receiving the flu vaccine.

“The country cannot afford to have them sick especially as the flu season approaches. This is one of the major lessons that we have learnt from countries that have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We therefore plead for the understanding of all South Africans who may unfortunately not have access to the flu vaccine this year,” Mkhize said.